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7 Ways to Make the Most Out of Your Doctor Appointments

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Last week’s column talked about how a break from doctor appointments can be beneficial for health.

But what happens after the break?

Depending on how long of a break taken, it may appear as though we sometimes forget how to be prepared for appointments. It seems simple. We go to the appointment, tell the doctor what is wrong and leave with an answer and some medicine. The feeling of “I got this” may wash over us.

But the fact is, sometimes, we just do not “got it.” Doctor appointments are overwhelming. Between new information being tossed at you and that ridiculous brain fog, we may leave appointments feeling overwhelmed and unaccomplished.

Here are seven ways you can make the most out of your appointments.

1. Prepare what you want to say. We have all had that appointment where we had so many things in our head to say to the doctor, and we end up leaving the appointment not saying a single one of them. To avoid this, write down every question and concern you may have. You do not need to write a book, but a piece of paper with bullet points may be beneficial for you to look down at when you forget what you wanted to bring up.

Tip: Try practicing reading the bullet points to a significant other or to yourself in front of the mirror. This will help you feel more confident that you understand the questions you have written down.

2. Keep a diary of your pain and symptoms. This helps the doctor better understand how your symptoms differ throughout the month. For many symptoms we experience, we tend to have no idea if it relates to endometriosis. With a diary, the doctor can associate symptoms with diet, exercise or your period. 

Tip: If you are not into journals and writing, many symptom apps are available on your phone to download and use.

3. Know what medications you are taking. No matter how many times you have been to the doctors, they will always ask you this question. Bring a list of what it is you are taking along with the dosage and number of times a day you take it. If you prefer, bring the actual medication with you instead of a list.

Tip: Do not forget to include any vitamins, herbal remedies and over the counter drugs you may be using.

4. Know family medical history. This may not seem top priority when you go to the doctors, but it can be very helpful in ruling out different issues. I find every time I am at the doctors, that question comes up. Whether it is on the forms or being asked by the doctor. And every time, I forget the answers.

Tip: Bring a list with family members’ name, age, medical history, how they are related to you and if they are living or deceased. 

5. Carry your medical history with you. Many doctors should have these on file already. However, I have come across many appointments where they did not and I had to try to remember what, when, where and how. It becomes overwhelming and I, without fail, leave out important information. Make copies and bring all your medical records with you.

6. Be honest and do not feel embarrassed. Most likely, the doctor has heard what you are about to say numerous amounts of times. In order for him or her to properly help you, you need to explain every thing that is going on. Pain during sex? Mention it. Extra stress at work? Bring it up. Do not leave any details out.

Tip: Again, this is something you can practice talking about in the mirror to help build confidence to talk about it with the doctor.

7.  Ask questions and write it down. During your appointment you may receive a lot of information to take in, or sometimes not enough. Ask questions. Do you understand what he or she is saying? What is the next step? What is the treatment plan? What other tests can be done? No question is too silly to ask. The doctors are there to help you, so do not leave the office until you are satisfied with answers.

Tip: Write down things the doctor is saying to you. If you would rather, ask if you can record your whole appointment. This way you can go back and listen to the appointment over again.

Follow this journey at My Endo Journey

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Gettyimage by: neyro2008

Originally published: January 26, 2018
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